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DU refuses to blink, row spirals

New Delhi, June 21: Delhi University today rejected the UGC’s directive to scrap its four-year undergraduate programme, escalating a stand-off that impacts more than one lakh students.

The university’s academic council, chaired by vice-chancellor Dinesh Singh, met a day after the higher education regulator issued a strong letter asking DU to return to the three-year programme for the new batch to be admitted soon as well as the batch that started the FYUP last year.

While over a lakh students have applied for under-graduate courses at the university this year, about 54,000 took admission last year.

The University Grants Commission has said the FYUP violates the national education policy that provides for the 10+2+3 system.

But the university’s academic council today resolved to write back to the UGC to reconsider its directive. Nearly hundred of the council’s 140 members were present when the resolution was adopted. Ten submitted a dissent note.

The academic council said the FYUP did not violate the 10+2+3 system because students can get graduation degrees after three years in the university. After the fourth year, they are awarded an honours degree.

However, UGC sources said the higher education regulator was unlikely to budge from its position. A UGC official said that the regulator was empowered to determine the standard of higher education and co-ordinate with universities to ensure uniformity and remove disparities that could affect students’ careers. DU should not delay further in implementing the UGC order, the official added.

It is unclear what will happen if both DU and the UGC dig in their heels. The Centre is against the four-year course and could ask the President, who is the Visitor at the university, to intervene.

The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) described the academic council resolution as a delaying tactic.

“The resolution… demonstrates that so long as Prof. Dinesh Singh continues as vice-chancellor the statutory bodies will not be more than rubberstamps. This resolution is nothing but a tactic to delay scrapping the FYUP and is unmindful of the stress and difficulties being faced by those who are waiting for the admission process to begin soon,” said DUTA president Nandita Narayan.

But former DUTA president Aditya N. Mishra accused the UGC of trespassing on the autonomy of Delhi University.

“The academic council and executive council which approved FYUP are bodies created under DU Act passed by Parliament. On the behest of the HRD ministry, the UGC is invading into the autonomy of the university. It will not be tolerated,” Mishra said.

Mishra pointed out that the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has been offering four-year Bachelor of Science courses for the last several years. Shiv Nadar University and Ambedkar University are also offering four-year programmes, he said.

The UGC official said the IISc course was a specially designed programme. The MBBS courses are of more than five years’ duration, the official argued.

“Institutions are free to design special courses of longer duration. The UGC is not asking Delhi University to stop its Bachelor of Science and B.Tech courses, which are of four-year duration. Only the 40 programmes in the general stream cannot be of four-year duration,” the official said.